30 June 2005

British standard weather stops play

Tuesday's match against arch rivals BSI was abandoned in the 18th over due to rain. It was a shame because Dodgers were amassing a formidable total against a depleted BSI.

The scorecard for this match (such as it is) and for the matches against Ombudsman, ATOC and Superstars are all now in Fixtures & Results.

23 June 2005

We Flippin' Murdered 'Em!

It was a familiar story: an early dropped dolly was costing the match; the bowling was becoming ragged as superior batsman flailed it to all parts; fielders were trudging disconsolately after boundaries as tempers frayed. Fortunately it wasn’t us this time!

Fill in the blanks. JC _________ the toss and we had to _________ first under a blazing sun. At least some things never change! Conway and Gaught opened for the Rats. Rod Paterson was again not firing on all cylinders but Matt was struggling to get the ball away and quickly became frustrated. In the fourth over from Benn - playing in his hundreth game - he launched at the first ball outside off, played way too early and lobbed the ball to Harrison at cover for an easy catch. A handy early scalp.

Abigail was next and began confidently enough, driving Hilary (7-1-38-0) through the covers with a degree of class, until one from Benn (8-1-20-2) popped and he could only glove it to the Cat for 21. John Cooper (7-1-23-0) showed good discipline and after 20 overs we had a measure of control at 73-2.

David Pope’s spell (4-0-27-0) was relatively uneventful as Gaught and Whitrod advanced the score slowly, but Tony soon retired hurt to herald the arrival of our arch-Nemesis, Simon Gundry. It was up to Harrison and the returning Paterson to keep order. Nick bowled well, conceding just 26 in his six overs with the approved leg stump line and bagging Gaught caught behind for 54 en route. Rod (8-0-63-0) fared less well as Gundry made the most of his extra pace to smash an unbeaten 57 as the Tomatoheads closed on 205-3 with 31 extras, mainly wides.

205 didn’t look great on a shirt front with a bare outfield, but it looked an awful lot better as McB suffered a similar fate to Abigail, edging one that popped from Patten to the keeper for just 1. Then came The Error. Priest launched at one, mistimed it horribly, and the ball lobbed gently to the aforementioned Abigail at cover. Unbelievably he floored it. Lesser mistakes have turned matches in the past…

Our other opener Jacobs had played a couple of great shots, but gave Richard some more catching practice which he didn’t fluff and was out for 11 as we struggled on 26-2. Nick Harrison arrived to begin the rebuilding as Gundry and Block came into the attack and it was no surprise that the score increased slowly. Painfully slowly. At the 20-over drinks we were on just 63-2, requiring 143 in the second half of the innings. The batsmen were set, but if they got out how could we possibly win?

Harrison quickly put his marker down after the break, taking heavy toll of Thakrar’s spin with glorious lofted drives and pulls; then it was Priest’s turn as he launched into Paresh Taylor (3-0-30-0) to reduce the pressure considerably. Gundry’s return was perhaps too late and he had no impact while Phil Patten – inexplicably taken off with 6-1-12-2 – went for 19 in his remaining two overs. It was becoming a rout now: Conway conceded 15 in his solitary over and when Priest smashed Errol Barnett for two fours we had won by eight wickets with no fewer than 27 deliveries remaining.

Priest (96*) and Harrison (82*) had added an all-wickets record of 183*, beating the previous best by Priest and McBarron of 142 against Science Museum in 2003. The last 146 since the break came in just 15.3 overs with as good an array of clean, powerful, proper hitting as you could wish to see. Our fielding had held up under pressure and the lost toss was probably a plus point as the Rats showed their customary lack of urgency when setting a target. All-in-all, a magnificent victory.

MoM: Abigail (11)

17 June 2005

The Great Escape

Dodgers scraped home in dramatic fashion from the last ball at Regent’s Park against ATOC Marauders last night, surely the greatest escape in our turbulent history.

We arrived at the venue – itself a late change from a mythical Wandsworth Common fixture – to see our opposition in various bits of clothing, some of it designed for office wear and none of it white. Surely an easy victory in store? Phil McBarron was delegated to spin, predictably called tails, even more predictably lost, and we took the field.

The early overs confirmed our initial impression despite some audacious – bordering on suicidal – running from the openers that had the Dodgers ring fielders scratching their heads in amazement. Rod Paterson was unplayable at times on the bumpy track recording 1-9 and Neil Benn picked up 3-15 courtesy of two catches from McB. When Rhys Thomas took two wickets in his first two overs the score stood at 46-6 from 12 and Cap’n Carr decided to open things up.

And how! Enter… the Cat, whose career figures from 124 matches stood at 0-10. His first ball was short and whacked behind square for four; his second was identical and received a similar whack, yet Chris Jacobs had been moved back 20 yards and pouched the catch. At the other end the ball was thrown to a shocked Jacobs (career figures 1-64) who also grabbed a wicket with a catch by Benn. Then it all went wrong. The Cat was hit for successive sixes and Jacobs treated not much less harshly as the pair recorded 4 overs for 41. Back to the real game and Hilary and Dunning managed to restore some order towards the end, but ATOC had reached a worrying 103-9.

Priest was in fine form, however, and his enforced retirement at 27 had taken just 19 balls. Qureshi had been a little scratchy before being brilliantly caught for 11 but we were in control as Carr and McB came together. Neither looked in good nick on the poor surface and John was eventually out for nine heaving at a slow delivery as the innings began to stall. Jacobs was just getting going when he was run out for 12 in a mix-up before McB’s ordeal ended for 20 off 33 as he too attempted a desperate heave to break the shackles.

Seventeen were needed off two and the obituary writers were drafting their verdicts on JC’s captaincy. An increasingly anxious Dodgers bench then had to watch Rod Paterson run out for nought having almost crashed into JJ Dunning in mid-pitch. JJ managed a four to leave nine needed off the final over. Dot, two, then John Hilary was caught behind leaving seven needed off three balls with Benn coming in.

The next ball was a classic. Benn hit it only as far as the keeper, who was stood up, and had to scramble back just before the wicket was broken. Not many on the ground seemed to understand what happened next. JJ certainly didn’t as he stood bemused in mid-pitch as his partner gesticulated wildly at him to run; the keeper certainly didn’t either as he repeatedly and pointlessly hit the bail-less stumps with the ball; but umpire Priest did and the run stood.

[For the record, when both bails are off you need to rebuild the wicket or remove a stump from the ground with either the ball or a hand holding the ball].

The rest, as they say, is history. JJ smacked the penultimate delivery down the ground for four then smacked the final ball to long on for an easy two and we had won. Cue the music: de-de, de-der-de-de-de, de-der-de-der-de-de-de-de-de…

Was this complacency or arrogance? Perhaps a bit of both. We had let a non-lowest scorer bat twice at the end for some reason, then more bizarrely we had lent them a fielder to make eleven when we had started with only eight and received nothing!

M-o-M votes: JJ 5, Jacobs 2, Priest 2, Cat 2.

15 June 2005

Phew!

Dodgers’ nightmare run thankfully came to an end last night with a 12 run victory over the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Cap’n Carr won the toss – for once – and we batted. Things didn’t start well as Qureshi was bowled for the third game in a row trying to play a ball angling in at leg stump through mid-wicket – this time to register a golden duck. Priest and McBarron then moved the score along steadily before Phil was trapped leg before for 12.

JC came in at four and continued his recent form: hard hitting and dodgy running in equal measure. JC was… how can I put it… particularly effective at retaining the strike in his innings, drawing the cruellest rebuke imaginable from Neil at one point – “Well run Phil”. Both fell on the same ball – JC inevitably to a run out for 14 and Priest having reached the 25 retirement mark.

The innings suddenly ground to a halt as Harrison chipped the ball back to the bowler for a duck and Matthews and Westhead struggled to get more than a few wides and byes to the deep-standing keeper. The Cat’s eventual departure for our third duck brought in John Hilary and a welcome impetus to the scoring rate. Showing flashes of his old form, JH scored a very quick 20* as we added 21 in the last two overs to post 110-6, extras top-scoring for the second game running. Was this defendable?

It didn’t look it as the Ombudsmen’s openers set off at a cracking rate. It was definitely a day to bowl later in the innings and Nick Harrison showed experience belying his tender years by incurring a mystery injury after just one over that equally mysteriously cleared up when the openers were gone. Strange that. John Cooper had posted that afternoon that he hadn’t conceded an extra all season. Replacing Harrison, two of his first three balls were wides. D’oh!

Paterson recovered from an expensive start to help us keep control and – after one opener had retired in the 6th over – Cooper grabbed a wicket in taking 1-29. With 44 needed off 8 with wickets in hand we were in difficulty, but tight overs and wickets from Benn (3-13) and Hilary (1-18) left the target at 39 off five, which Ombudsman never really threatened thanks to Harrison (2-16).

So, a very, very welcome win by 12 runs. The scorebook told the tale: Ombudsman conceded 28 extras, Dodgers only 8, and once again the retirement rule had greatly favoured us.

13 June 2005

First photos of the season

Dodgers v Dealers photo gallery now online

Dodgers fascinating facts Season 2005

Dodgers' batting performances in the last few games may not quite have dazzled but there has much to enjoy in the season so far. Here are just a few examples.

1. Two of the five highest fourth wicket partnerships to cheer about:

2nd - Harrison / Carr - 76 v Weasels 8 June
5th - Carr / Westhead - 51 v Dealers 12 June

2. Neil Benn took two wickets on Sunday to become the first ever Dodger to take a hundred wickets. But who will be the next to break the magic barrier? Here is the Top 5 All Time Leading Wicket-takers:

1st. Neil Benn (101)
2nd. John Adey (94)
3rd. John Hilary (92)
4th. Phil McBarron (78)
5th. John Cooper (75)

3. Neil Priest passed 4000 runs for Dodgers this season in the match against Audit Commission at Chiswick. Neil's all time batting average is 49.96 although for a fleeting moment during this season it was over 50.

4. The current losing streak of 4 matches is the longest this century but, as McB correctly recalled last night, there was a season when we didn't win a single match!

5. John Cooper has yet to concede any bowling extras this season (in nearly 30 overs) and yet his beard-growing antics earlier in the season almost saw him disqualified from the averages. 'Wearing a beard on the field of play' has been outlawed under the Dodgers Constitution since 1871. The Cat is exempt since he has been playing for more than 50 years. Fortunately for Cooper he shaved off the offending facial hair before the end of the 4-week statute of limitations and so he can play on without fear of punishment. However, a repeat incursion into this shady netherworld may not be looked on so kindly....

At least nobody got hurt

Dodgers suffered a fourth consecutive heavy defeat yesterday, this time against Dealers at Wandsworth Common. At least we had eleven players thanks to John Cooper’s efforts, with Tony Whitrod and Mike Duggan from Superstars and JJ Dunning a website recruit joining the side.

Opinions were divided about whether to bat or bowl, so deputy caller Benn opted for JC’s sure-fire losing strategy and called heads. We lost and fielded.

The early overs were interesting on a sporty pitch, with Benn and Cooper looking dangerous at times but suffering a string of boundaries to some aggressive batting. John’s luck wasn’t getting any better as several balls in the air narrowly avoided fielders and the one that didn’t was promptly floored. The missed opener at least didn’t rack-up 140 like on Wednesday as Benn bowled him – fittingly a swinger through the gate - to become the first Dodger to reach 100 wickets.

Replacing Benn, Duggan showed a little rustiness with his spinners but picked up a wicket and Cooper ended a decent spell of 1-30 by snaring the other opener. The score was still moving at six-an-over, however, aided by some horrible fielding, and there was little anyone could do to slow the rate as Dealers’ number three continued to belt the ball to all parts. Dunning looked promising in picking up a couple of middle-order wickets and Whitrod had a steady three-over spell but the game was rapidly deserting us. The returning Benn was expensive but bowled another Dealer (breaking a bail in the process!) and it was left to McBarron and Qureshi to finish the innings. They both bowled really well, McB taking out the top-scorer who had 86 and two others to end with 3-23 from six and Tawhid’s two overs yielded 1-5 as Dealers ended on 220.

There was some confidence in the Dodgers camp at the interval. It was horribly misplaced. Dealers’ first three bowlers were all noticeably quicker than anything we could offer and were able to extract some wicked bounce. McB (5) got a snorter that lifted off a length and brushed the glove; Matt Taylor (10) was peppered on the hands before missing an excellent leg-cutter and Qureshi (9) was again undone by a ball cutting back.

Carr and Westhead avoid a humiliating collapse despite several near-death experiences and awful running as they added 51 in 15 overs for the fourth wicket in scoring 29 and 17 respectively. Both fell in quick succession to good catches and the rest of the innings petered out as every Dealer bar one bowled. We ended on 133-9 and so lost by 87 runs, but that was flattering really. At least nobody got hurt on a pitch made for the Dealers’ pacier attack.

Where do we go from here? Not "down to the lake, I fear" but two 20-over games over the next week with a win – or even a competitive performance – desperately needed.

12 June 2005

Dealers Photo Gallery

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
Matt Taylor

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
Matt Taylor

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
McBarron and Taylor

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
McBarron and Taylor

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
The Cat

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
Tawhid

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
The team on the sidelines

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
McB umpiring

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
Guy

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
The Dodgers Youth Policy

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005

Dodgers Cricket Club v Dealers 12 June 2005
Matt Taylor in contemplative mood

09 June 2005

Slaughter in the sunshine

Flashback: on 28 July last year Dodgers beat New Barbarian Weasels by 84 runs, holding eight catches and effecting two run outs. Those of a nervous disposition ought not to read this tale of the 2005 encounter.

JC’s first three actions in this game – up to and including the first ball – were to have a massive bearing on the game. First, his Haig-esque persistence with the “it’ll come up heads eventually” strategy failed us yet again and we were forced to field first on by far the hottest day of the season; second, and less obviously wrong, he declined the offer of a time game.

The third action set the tone for the day. The first ball was pushed to mid-wicket and the non-striker inexplicably set off for a stupid single and was sent back. JC, who had done well to reach the stumps, missed Cooper’s low throw completely and the batsman escaped. To be fair, opinions were mixed about whether the direct hit was required or not.

The early exchanges were quiet after that, with Paterson out of sorts and Benn getting little movement to trouble the batsman. The introduction of Nick Harrison proved effective as he reeled off his eight overs for just 21, snaring one opener thanks to a good catch from McB. At the mid-innings drinks Weasels looked threatening at 87-1 and Tawhid Index were quoting a runs spread around 200 at this point. Their proprietor had to run for cover (actually “the covers”) when the buy orders flooded in, but nobody could have foreseen the carnage to come.

Benn’s comeback spell was expensive as his 100th wicket continued to elude him, returning 0-44, but things got worse and worse. Heads dropped and tempers flickered (briefly) as the run rate increased dramatically with Cooper (7-0-66-0) and Pope (5-0-53-0) severely treated, not helped by some truly atrocious fielding on the hard, fast and bumpy outfield. The opener missed on ball one gave his next chance on about 95 when the Cat downed a simple catch off Pope.

Heads were held in hands, but it got worse still as the opener was dropped again just after his ton en route to 140. Some rapid clatter against McBarron (4-0-45-1 – a good catch from Qureshi) and Paterson (8-0-54-1) saw a ruthless Weasels post 297-5 from their 40 overs – 210 coming off the last 20 (perhaps that was what Tawhid’s quote was for?).

Two sights in these closing overs were unpleasant. First, I hope never again to see a Dodgers side humiliated to the point that, in the first innings of a game, not one fielder saving a single could be justified. Second, I wish we didn’t play against teams that were so anxious to rub our noses in it that they embarked on outrageous strike-farming in the way Weasels did, even going so far as to deliberately run out one of their lesser batsman to rotate the strike in the penultimate over. But that’s only my view.

Dodgers’ reply actually started brightly, with McBarron in good touch and Qureshi gaining confidence with some bright strokeplay. Tawhid eventually played all round a nip-backer for 14 and McB perished in unusual fashion for 31 when he skied a dolly that was promptly dropped; unfortunately he had set off without calling and was easily run out by about 15 yards.

Harrison batted well for a patient 48 with blocks and leaves interspersed with powerful boundaries including a tasty six. Chris Jacobs had been bamboozled somewhat in making just four and JC hit an assured 27 before being trapped in front. Veterans Benn (42) and Matthews (13*) added 62 in quick time against some lesser bowlers at the end to see us to a respectable 206-5 at the close.

It was a game of what-ifs. We wouldn’t have lost a time game, I’m sure, on what was a very flat pitch. But how many would they have got if their opener had been dismissed without facing? Could we have chased down 250? In particular, did they have any decent bowlers in the hutch? We shall never know, but the eventual margin of 91 probably flattered us in what was wholesale slaughter in the last 15 overs.

06 June 2005

2005 and All Time Averages updated

Check out the Stats section for the newly updated bowling, batting and fielding stats for this season and All Time.

02 June 2005

Never got near

Dodgers - with only 9 players - suffered a second consecutive comprehensive defeat last night against English Heritage, leaving us with two wins and two losses for the season to date.

Rain and drizzle had threatened the game, but thankfully had given up as we took the field for a clash reduced to 18 overs. Losing the toss, openers Priest and Qureshi had to contend with a wet, skiddy pitch and plenty of movement in the air and off the deck. Things didn't start well as Tawhid attempted an ambitious pull from his second ball and popped a catch up to gully. Two overs later, Neil was bowled by a full swinging delivery for 8 and trouble was brewing.

Debutant Nick Harrison - another recruit from Warwick Castle - had played a couple of attractive shots before holing out to EH's trap at deep square for 10, quickly followed by Westhead for 3. Heritage's change bowler was twice as fast as the openers and moved the ball disconcertingly on occasions as the pressure mounted. Cap'n Carr looked assured at times, but eventually succumbed for 10 leaving Benn with a painfully slow 6*, Cooper (8) and Adey with a handy 10* to see the innings out at 66-6.

This looked a good 15 short of a vaguely competitive score and so it proved, though Cooper bowled even better than normal to return 2-9 courtesy of excellent catches from Cat and Harrison. The rest of the bowling was very mixed - Benn threatening little with 0-17 and Harrison luckless with 0-8 but Adey and Priest suffering from their lack of practice as EH cruised to victory without further loss. We simply had not been able to apply any real pressure defending such a low score and their batsman could take their time and run singles with impunity.

Back to the drawing board. MoM votes: Harrison 6, Cooper 3.